Christmas is just around the corner. Over the last 16 years, we have received some of the best gifts any sports fans could ask for from the illustrious career of LeBron James. LeBron fan or not, you have to respect and appreciate all he has attributed to the game of basketball and his unending impact on the game.
LeBron has won three NBA Championships in his career, including three Finals MVP’s. Every LeBron James finals have never failed to consist of memorable moments in big-time games. James set an NBA record by going to his eighth straight finals last season. Some look at his 3-9 Finals record with much scrutiny, but the perseverance to carry his team season after season is remarkable. All nine of those NBA Finals were filled with dominating performances, absurd blocks, big time shots, and epic comebacks.
5. LeBron’s block on Tiago Splitter
June 9th, 2013 was the origin of LeBron James’ historic block in the NBA Finals. The Miami Heat were already up by 19 against the San Antonio Spurs in the 4th quarter of the 2013 NBA Finals. LeBron James decided to put the icing on the cake with one of the most disrespectful rejections in NBA history.
The Spurs ran a pick-and-roll at the top of the key that allowed Tiago to slip free, cutting to the basket. Tiago caught and ball and rose up for a slam when LeBron slid over to help, resulting in a nasty right-handed block. James screamed and flexed at the Heat crowd then sprinted down the court. He set a screen then caught the ball and fired a pass to Ray Allen in the right corner to hit a three to put Miami up 22 and run away with a Game 2 victory.
Most NBA players would just slide out of the way of a slashing opponent preparing to throw down a vicious dunk to eliminate the possibility of becoming a highlight film. LeBron had different ideas. The best player in the world feared no one and wanted to make a statement to show that the Miami Heat were not going to allow the Spurs to get anything on them. This pitbull attitude ultimately led LeBron to his second NBA title.
4. The Headband Game
Many remember Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals as the game where Ray Allen hit the game-tying three to force overtime where the Heat eventually won to force a Game 7. But this is also known as the LeBron James headband game.
With less than nine minutes to go in Game 6, the Heat were down 80-75. Mario Chalmers drives right and attempts a falling, fading-away runner. Chalmers airballed, but LeBron James grabbed the miss in the air and threw it down for a putback slam decreasing the Spurs lead to three. In the process of the putback, James’ headband got knocked off and he played on. A few minutes after his headband flew off, LeBron James blocked Tim Duncan’s dunk attempt and flew down the floor and finished a layup to tie the game.
LeBron had been known for his receding hairline and as his hairline faded back, his headband went with it. It was a joke across social media and the sports world. This was one of the first times LeBron played without a headband and everyone talked about how weird LeBron looked across twitter. Shortly after, their minds would change.
After LeBron’s headband flew off, he scored 12 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 block to lead the Miami Heat to a 103-100 overtime victory to force Game 7. LeBron collected a triple-double in Game 6 with 32 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds in one of the best Finals performances ever on the brink of elimination.
The sports world went crazy over the headband-less LeBron James. Everyone was saying LeBron should never wear a headband again.
Game 6 of the NBA Finals was one of the most historic Finals games ever and it led to the Heat winning Game 7 to give LeBron his second NBA Championship and back-to-back Finals MVP’s.
3. LeBron wins his first NBA title
LeBron James faced much scrutiny from “The Decision” to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers to join Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in Miami, eventually losing to the Dallas Mavericks in the Big 3’s first season 4-2 in the 2011 NBA Finals. LeBron said on his HBO show, The Barbershop, that his greatest achievement was losing to the Mavericks in the NBA Finals. He said the loss resulted in him learning many lessons and it gave him the drive and changed attitude, which led him to dominate the following season (and seasons to come).
LeBron James and the Miami Heat faced off against a young, loaded Oklahoma City Thunder team, with Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and James Harden. The Heat won the series 4-1 and LeBron James won his first championship and Finals MVP. The reason LeBron left Cleveland was to join the Big 3 and win multiple championships, and LeBron got that in just his second season with the Miami Heat.
LeBron had established himself as the best player in the world and was missing the one thing every professional athlete dreams of, a championship. The feeling of winning that Finals and hoisting up that trophy gave LeBron the motivation to keep carrying his team and dominating for years to come.
No team had ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals and no one thought the Cleveland Cavaliers could, especially against the 73-9 Golden State Warriors. The Cavaliers ended up winning their next two games to force a Game 7 in the Oracle Arena in Oakland. LeBron James, however, would not go this far without coming out victorious.
The game was close throughout and was tied at 89 with two minutes left. Andre Iguodala grabbed a rebound off a Kyrie Irving miss and flew down the court with the ball. It seemed that the Warriors had a 2-1 advantage with Stephen Curry and Iggy driving at J.R. Smith. Iggy passed the ball to Curry who immediately passed it back. Iggy went up for the finish when LeBron James came out of nowhere to pin the ball against the backboard.
That layup could have changed the outcome of the game. The Warriors would not score another point for the remainder of the game, and thanks to Kyrie Irving’s game-clinching shot, the Cavaliers completed the greatest comeback in NBA Finals history.
This was LeBron’s best block of his entire career and one of the reasons why he earned his third Finals MVP. LeBron completed his promise to the fans of Cleveland of bringing them a championship.
“THE Block” will forever be stapled to LeBron’s legacy and was his biggest play in the biggest game of his career.
1. “CLEVELAND THIS IS FOR YOU!”
LeBron James was born and raised in Akron, Ohio and was drafted straight out of high school to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron left Cleveland for Miami in 2010, breaking the hearts of all Cleveland fans. He then returned in 2014 and promised the city of Cleveland he would bring them a championship.
The Cavaliers lost to the Warriors in his first season back in Cleveland and the odds seemed more than impossible after the Cavaliers went down 3-1 to the Warriors. Thanks to Cleveland’s “Chosen One”, LeBron James, he willed them back to tie the series 3-3. LeBron James’ block and Kyrie Irving’s game-clinching shot sealed the unimaginable comeback for the Cavaliers.
This was the most important victory in LeBron’s entire career, bringing the Cavaliers’ first championship to Cleveland. LeBron James ended a 52-year championship drought in Cleveland.
Following the 93-89 victory, LeBron James expressed pure emotions, crying uncontrollably, giving the fans of Cleveland the most heartfelt speech ever, screaming “Cleveland, this is for you!”
LeCramp clutch three seals Game 4 of the 2012 NBA Finals
LeBron James fell to the ground during Game 4 of the 2012 NBA Finals with about six minutes left. He was suffering leg cramps and could not even make it off of the floor. Kevin Durant hit a clutch shot and the game seemed to be in favor of the Thunder.
With less than four minutes left, LeBron James checked back into the game. With the score tied 94 all with 2:52 left, a limping LeBron James hit a dagger, go-ahead three to give the Heat a three-point lead which they would hold the rest of the game.
This was a huge shot for LeBron and the Heat. They lost the previous season to the Mavericks. If they dropped Game 4 to tie the series at 2-2, their chances of winning decreased dramatically. LeBron showed his strength and toughness to hit the games biggest shot and secure his team a win that would lead to James’ first championship.
Game 1, 2018 NBA Finals
Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals could have potentially been LeBron James’ best Finals game if the team had won. Game 1 was the most competitive Kevin Durant Warriors-Cavaliers game to date. LeBron’s career-high 51 point dominant performance was overlooked by teammates errors.
Every time the Warriors made a run, the Cavs had an answer. The game could have been over if George Hill made both of his free throws, but with 4.7 seconds left, Hill missed the second free throw and J.R. Smith grabbed the rebound. Game 1 was the famous J.R. Smith brain cramp game. J.R grabbed the rebound and tried to run out the clock, thinking the game was tied instead of putting up a shot. The game went to overtime and LeBron and the entire team was clearly frustrated and out of sync for the five minute OT period where they lost by 10.
The J.R. Smith error should not result in people overlooking LeBron’s incredible game. LeBron posted 51 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists. The King was in assassin mode and scored at will the entire night. He had to with the lack of talent his team had. This was LeBron’s record-breaking eighth straight Finals and this was definitely the worst team he single-handily carried to the Finals.
The entire 2015 NBA Finals
The 2015 NBA Finals was LeBron’s first year back in Cleveland and the breakout year for the Warriors. LeBron had his own Big 3 with Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. Unfortunately, LeBron primarily had to play this series solo (Kyrie played game 1), bringing him back to his old Cavs days with LeBron doing everything for his team.
The Golden State Warriors won the series 4-2, which was pretty solid for the Cavs having 2/3 of their best players out. LeBron was dominant throughout the entire series. The King averaged 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 8.8 assists per game.
LeBron had to do everything for this team and had to shoot the majority of the Cavs’ shots. He shot about 40 percent from the field. Andre Iguodala was named Finals MVP for his role in defending LeBron. Holding LeBron to 35.8, 13.3, and 8.8 on 40 percent shooting shows just how great James is.
(All stats via Basketball-Reference)